1. Gautam Talwar, Managing Director, Southeast Asia, Spotify. -- Photo Courtesy Spotify
Life has been changing since the COVID-19 outbreak, with many people forming new habits or ways of thinking, working, and even listening to music. Việt Nam News reporter Thu Ngân talks with Gautam Talwar, managing director, Southeast Asia, Spotify, about changes in the entertainment industry and the new habits of its listeners.
Inner Sanctum: Spotify recently announced that stars from Wizarding World and beyond will join the Harry Potter At Home initiative. Can you tell us more about the project? What was the inspiration behind this?
We are thrilled to have the Harry Potter audio readings available exclusively on Spotify for both free and premium users. Fans can expect to hear from some of the biggest stars from the Wizarding World including Daniel Radcliffe, David Beckham and more, reading the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone/Sorcerer's Stone. With its themes of family, friendship, courage, and overcoming adversity, the hope is for this new slate of readings to bring further comfort and entertainment to children, families, and carers confined to homes everywhere.
This is part of the Harry Potter At Home project which is an initiative developed by Wizarding World Digital and JK Rowling’s agent The Blair Partnership in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This aims to encourage reading and learning for students in virtual classrooms.
Inner Sanctum: Many countries continue to be under social distancing regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an entertainment platform, has Spotify seen changes in people’s streaming habits during this period, and if so, what are they?
As people around the world have increasingly moved indoors over the past few months, we have seen music and podcast listening changes in a variety of ways.
During this period, we have seen more streaming across devices like computer desktops, TVs, smart speakers, and gaming consoles. We’re seeing interesting patterns; speaking of gaming, users are also combining music with a popular family-friendly, at-home escape that might ring a bell: Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons video game. As reflected on Spotify, Animal Crossing-themed playlists are up 1,000 per cent.
We have also noticed that the songs Spotify listeners are adding to their playlists are more “chill” — meaning they are more acoustic, less danceable, and have lower energy than songs previously added. Plus, the music tends to be more instrumental, featuring instruments rather than vocals. Other changes in listeners’ habits include increased interest in news and self-improvement podcasts like wellness, meditation, and other topics.
2. COVID-19 leads to new entertainment habits. -- Photo Courtesy Spotify
As many schools and workplaces have closed around the world, we have seen an increase in the streaming of Kids and Family content, particularly to help kids sleep. In fact, with more than 1,000 per cent increase in home-school themed playlists, it is clear that many are turning to music to get through the day.
Work-from-home themed playlists have also seen a massive 1,400 per cent increase on Spotify as compared to the first 10 days of March (appropriately, with the most-added track being Work From Home by Fifth Harmony).
Listeners have also taken spring cleaning to the next level. Spotify’s Cleaning Kit playlist has seen a 30 per cent increase in streaming; while overall streams have increased by more than 65 per cent. Users are mopping to songs made for dancing, including Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, Roar by Katy Perry, and Work by Drake and Rihanna. In fact, there are now more than 940,000 cleaning playlists on Spotify today.
We have also seen a 50 per cent increase in hair-themed playlists on the platform. These users are taking matters of their hair into their own hands. Speaking to the seemingly impossible task, popular songs on these playlists include Complicated by Avril Lavigne, High Hopes by Panic! at the Disco and Hair Cutter by Animal Collective.
Inner Sanctum: What are the advantages of these new habits?
Based on the trends, listeners are taking time for themselves and making health and wellness a top priority. More people have been listening to podcasts in the Health and Fitness and Lifestyle and Health categories over this period, with users also streaming more podcasts with the words “cooking” or “recipes” in the title or description. When it comes to playlists, users have been creating and following more workout playlists, while streams for running, yoga, nature sounds, and meditation playlists are also up.
People have also been finding meaningful ways to keep busy which include at-home hobbies like baking, crafts, and home improvement. Globally, we have seen colouring-themed playlists increase by about 40 per cent, and painting playlists more than 90 per cent. Plus, gardening playlists have grown 430 per cent (with songs like Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett, Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, and Sunflower by Post Malone and Swae Lee). Baking playlists have also risen by 120 per cent. Listeners are especially going bananas (no pun intended) for banana bread, with 2,750 Spotify playlists dedicated to the sweet treat.
Hobby podcasts are also having a moment. Listeners are tuning into podcasts like Just Wanna Quilt, with streams up more than 125 per cent, while WeCrochet has seen streams increase more than 60 per cent.
Inner Sanctum: What can people do to get inspired, stay positive and adapt to the “new normal”?
We believe that audio has the power to connect and unite people even when they are apart. Whether you are streaming bolero, pop or indie, chances are you are not the only one.
As we are living through these uniquely challenging times, our hope is that our playlists will allow listeners to forge a common bond with people who are also using audio to stay connected and offer a little respite, motivation and inspiration.
Here are just a few examples of playlists that music fans in Việt Nam can enjoy as they get about their day -- Morning Commute as they head to work, Đốt Cháy Mỡ Thừa as they are working out, or Êm Đềm as they relax/chill at home. All these playlists are available to all Spotify Free and Premium users in Việt Nam.
Inner Sanctum: The fight against COVID-19 will be with us for a long time. What are your company's plans for audiences and artists in the coming time?
Spotify has always been focused on creating connections between artists and their fans, using music and podcasts to help break down barriers and build stronger communities.
In Việt Nam, we have recently enlisted the support of local artists to take over some of Spotify’s top Moods and Moments playlists in the market and share the music that is "soundtracking" their days.
Some of the artists involved in this initiative include Vũ Cát Tường, Nguyên Hà, Juun Đăng Dũng, and more. Through these playlists, Spotify looks to amplify connections between artists and their fans, bringing them closer together through a shared love of music. The playlist takeovers will happen weekly, giving music fans refreshed content to accompany their days.
Whether in good times or challenging ones, we believe in the limitless power of audio and we hope that these playlists will allow listeners to forge a common bond with people who are also using audio to stay connected. VNS